Maybe the NFL should expand the player education about domestic violence and sexual assault to its arbitrators, but that is one of the most egregious things I’ve ever heard come out of a judge’s ruling.
If you’ll recall, the New York Times reported:
“Watson was said in both cases to have pressured women to perform oral sex during massages and was accused in one of also having grabbed a woman’s buttocks and vagina. The civil suits alleged that Watson engaged in a pattern of lewd behavior with women hired to provide personal services, coercing them to touch him in a sexual manner, exposing himself to women he had hired for massages, or moving his body in ways that forced them to touch his penis. The incidents cited in the suits were said to have occurred from March 2020 to March 2021.”
In another incident, a victim alleged that Waston “was persistent in his requests for sexual acts during their massage, including “begging” her to put her mouth on his penis. Another woman says that Watson began masturbating “aggressively” during her massage session with him, eventually ejaculating on her chest and face.
Watson has continually denied the allegations against him, but has settled with most of the 24 victims who came forward.
The question, though, is in what world is having a man constantly ask you if you want his penis in your mouth not violent? How is having a man ejaculate on your face against your will not violent? Robinson’s comments harken back to a time when anything short of being grabbed, raped, and beaten in an alley was “a misunderstanding” or a case of “boys will be boys,” or the dreaded “are you sure you didn’t lead him on? After all, you were in a dark alley alone at night dressed like that. What did you expect to have happen?” It’s clear from just that one remark that Robinson has absolutely no understanding of sexual violence and, as such, she had no business arbitrating Watson’s case.
It’s understandable why the NLFPA would want someone like Robinson to hear the case. What’s inexcusable is why the NFL agreed to it. Of course, it’s in the league’s best interest to have one of their star QBs out there this season, rather than sitting out all of 2022, which is what should have happened to a player accused of sexual misconduct with at least 24 women. And the Browns have done an exceptional job of forcing Watson down our throats all offseason as if nothing was wrong. The NFL decided long ago that women were expendable as fans. And women haven’t had the political will or organization to do anything about it.
Since #MeToo exploded into our Twitter timelines in 2017, we’ve seen dozens of judges blown up for a complete abdication of their duties when it comes to cases involving sexual assault, from the judge was concerned a prison sentence would have “adverse collateral consequences” on convicted rapist Brock Turner to the judge who initially gave full custody of a child to his mother’s rapist, it’s been no secret that there are judges across America who are always willing to give a man a pass for sexually violating women.
The NFL, though, has made a big deal out of its personal misconduct policy, which was overhauled in the wake of the video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiance now wife, in a hotel elevator. The league brought in experts on violence against women like former prosecutor Lisa Friel and blasted us all with “No More” video montages. There is no excuse for the NFL, which purports to want to do right by women, to have handed over Deshaun Watson’s discipline to an arbitrator who doesn’t have a clue about what sexual assault looks like.
Can’t wait for the inevitable press conference from Roger Goodell, when he shrugs his shoulders and tell us that he really wanted to do better for female fans, but his hands were tied. Meanwhile, the Watson defenders are already out in force, taking Robinson’s comments as proof that Watson’s alleged actions weren’t a big deal.
And around and around we go. By Week 8, all this will be forgotten and the few people who dare bring it up will be shouted down by the masses. It’s the way it always goes in the NFL. Happy training camp, everyone.